A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

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by Robert J. Mrazek
     
 

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One of the great untold stories of World War II finally comes to light in this thrilling account of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their heroic efforts in helping an outmatched U.S. fleet win critical victories at Midway and Guadalcanal. These 35 American men--many flying outmoded aircraft--changed the course of history, going on to become the war's most decorated naval…  See more details below

Overview

One of the great untold stories of World War II finally comes to light in this thrilling account of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their heroic efforts in helping an outmatched U.S. fleet win critical victories at Midway and Guadalcanal. These 35 American men--many flying outmoded aircraft--changed the course of history, going on to become the war's most decorated naval air squadron, while suffering the heaviest losses in U.S. naval aviation history.
Mrazek paints moving portraits of the men in the squadron, and exposes a shocking cover-up that cost many lives. Filled with thrilling scenes of battle, betrayal, and sacrifice, A DAWN LIKE THUNDER is destined to become a classic in the literature of World War II.

Editorial Reviews

Robert Bateman
Academically trained historians too often reduce gripping events to soul-parching compilations of cautious statements that only the most generous might grace with the term "narrative." On the flip side, journalists attempting to write works of history sometimes jettison their skepticism; the result is often a great story but not very good history. In his first foray into history, Mrazek captures the best of both approaches, avoiding hagiography and telling the story of Torpedo Eight and the war in the Pacific as it was, not as some might wish it had been.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Mrazek (Stonewall's Gold) brilliantly captures the bravery of Squadron Eight in World War II's pivotal battle of Midway and the unit's subsequent involvement at Guadalcanal. Presented in logbook format, the author's clipped narrative offers fascinating vignettes of the aviators' prewar lives. At Midway the squadron, in obsolete torpedo bombers without fighter protection, was ordered to attack Japanese carriers-and was nearly decimated. Mrazek indicts the captain and air commander of the formation's carrier, the USS Hornet, for this fiasco and intimates that the squadron may have been used as a decoy to benefit high-altitude dive bombers as they took the greatest toll on the enemy flattops. Following Midway, Squadron Eight was reassigned to the USS Saratoga as part of a task force charged with expelling the Japanese from Guadalcanal. Mrazek's gripping account of the group's bombing activities is rich in detail and tactical analysis. A special treat is Mrazek's winsome epilog, which details the postwar achievements of the surviving squadron officers and men. A well-written and meticulously researched account of one of America's most distinguished World War II aerial groups; recommended for general military and aviation collections and all libraries.
—John Carver Edwards

Kirkus Reviews
Satisfying thought excessively popularized history of the bomber group that, legend has it, won the Battle of Midway. In the History Channel version, during the darkest days of World War II American carrier planes took off on June 4, 1942, to attack the immense Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island. Orders called for a simultaneous strike, but the planes separated, and Torpedo Squadron Eight sighted the enemy first. Attacking at sea level and unprotected by American fighters, the slow bombers were easy meat for defending Japanese Zeros, which shot down every plane. No torpedo struck home, yet these men did not die in vain. While the Zeros were preoccupied, American dive-bombers arrived overhead and attacked unopposed, sinking the Japanese carriers and winning the battle. Novelist and former congressman Mrazek (The Deadly Embrace, 2006, etc.) provides 200 pages of gripping details that do not tarnish the squadron's heroism but reveal spectacular incompetence among higher commanders. Two months after Midway, the survivors fought around Guadalcanal, a second critical battle in which outnumbered Americans inflicted a crushing defeat on the Japanese. While their role was less crucial, the squadron's bombers inflicted considerable damage, becoming the most decorated naval air unit in history but also the one suffering the highest combat losses. Similar books concentrate on fighters and traditional bombers, so this account of torpedo planes offers an original perspective. Serious history buffs will be irritated by the docudrama style, which features invented dialogue and purports to reveal characters' thoughts and feelings, often up to the moment they die. Yet events undoubtedly happened moreor less as Mrazek describes, and his massive original research has produced a richly detailed story that never flags. Despite the lowbrow historiography, an admirable addition to the histories of air battles that turned the tide against the Japanese. Agent: David Halpern/The Robbins Office
From the Publisher
"A Dawn Like Thunder melds a good story with solid and skeptical research....Fast-paced and yet personal, Mrazek's narrative carries the reader to Midway quickly. But it does not stop there, as so many other accounts have....With A Dawn Like Thunder Mrazek earns the title of historian, one that this reviewer does not apply lightly."—Robert Bateman, Washington Post
Robert Bateman - Washington Post
"A Dawn Like Thunder melds a good story with solid and skeptical research....Fast-paced and yet personal, Mrazek's narrative carries the reader to Midway quickly. But it does not stop there, as so many other accounts have....With A Dawn Like Thunder Mrazek earns the title of historian, one that this reviewer does not apply lightly."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316040983
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
12/08/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
100,957
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

A remarkably vivid tale of valor, fate, and young men dying young. Robert Mrazek's epic tale, reconstructed with breathtaking research and recounted with a novelist's keen eye for detail, is a worthy monument to Torpedo Squadron Eight. --Rick Atkinson, author of The Day of Battle and An Army at Dawn

Bob Mrazek has found fresh material about the two pivotal Pacific battles of 1942 and written a marvelous book. His research and obvious affection for his heroes is indeed extraordinary. A Dawn Like Thunder is a spectacular achievement and a vital addition to any Pacific War library. --Hon. Charles Wilson of Charlie Wilson's War

The most highly decorated Navy Flyboys of World War II flew through hell and suffered the highest combat losses. Strap yourself in as Robert Mrazek takes you on a heroic flight into history. --James Bradley, author of Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers

A Dawn Like Thunder hooked me from the first page and didn’t let go. Robert Mrazek has written the definitive account of how the few American pilots of Torpedo Squadron Eight changed history at Midway and Guadalcanal. A stirring, truly heroic book that is destined to become a classic. --Alex Kershaw, author of Escape from the Deep and The Longest Winter

Robert Mrazek brings the dare-devil pilots of Torpedo Squadron Eight back to life in a narrative so vivid and heartbreaking that their courage reaches across the decades, leaving us moved by their incredible sacrifice and heroism. --Thurston Clarke, author of The Last Campaign and Pearl Harbor Ghosts

What makes A Dawn Like Thunder so special is that it is at once so absolutely horrible -- war is hell taken to the ultimate -- but at the same time so wonderfully uplifting. Robert Mrazek has, with a raw, unsparing telling, given grace and life to so many who died so young, so every-day, so gallantly. --Frank Deford, author of The Entitled and The Old Ball Game

A Dawn Like Thunder is no ordinary history. It is a soaring epic prose ballad about a group of young Americans whose rendezvous with destiny in 1942 at Midway and then Guadalcanal blazed a trail their whole generation would follow. With an amazing depth of research and a keen eye for detail, Robert Mrazek has brought to vivid life an enduring tale of human tragedy and triumph that will speak down to the latest generation. --Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall and Guadalcanal
From the Publisher
"Dick Hill gives this work an excellent reading.... His expressive and easygoing manner makes the art of narration seem effortless." —-AudioFile

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Meet the Author

Robert J. Mrazek is the author of Stonewall's Gold, winner of the Michael Shaara Prize for Best Civil War Novel of 1999. A five-term Congressman, he co-authored the law that saved the Manassas battlefield from being bulldozed. He lives in upstate New York and Maine.

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Dawn Like Thunder 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Old_Navy_65 More than 1 year ago
Considering the fairly short existence of Torpedo Squadron 8 and its disastrous losses of planes and aircrews at the Battle of Midway, you would not think that anybody could write a very substantial or readable history of this squadron and the heroic men who made it up. Yet this is what author Mrazek has done, with diligent research and numerous personal interviews with surviving squadron personnel. From the opening pages on he literally puts you in the squadron, both aboard USS Hornet and ashore at Midway with the TBF Avenger detachment, and later in the tropical muck of Guadalcanal. You get to know the guys who flew, and also the wrench-turners who worked hard to get planes in the air. Don't plan anything you can't re-schedule after you start this book, you will find it hard to put down.
Gary_Graf More than 1 year ago
Torpedo Squadron Eight was the most decorated Navy squadron of World War Two. Much has been written in print and portrayed in movies about their heroic actons during 1942. This book uncovers new details through personal interviews and extensive research that cuts through some of the hype and tells the story in a very personal and touching way. Some leaders of the American forces at Midway and Guadalcanal made poor decisions with disasterous consequences for many of the brave men that died as a result. Author Robert Mrazek gives an exiting and compassionate of what really happened.
GlennMN More than 1 year ago
"A Dawn Like Thunder" is truly a masterful, gripping account of the history of USN Torpedo Squadron 8. The writing is superb, the author's management of timelines is impeccable, and he blends the personal biographies of each participant with the chronology of events with a skill I haven't enjoyed since reading Shelby Foote's 3-volume history of the Civil War. This is tremendous reading - I had trouble putting it down, and I recommend it to anyone interested in WWII.
C-Stewart More than 1 year ago
An excellant read. Mr. Mrazak's experience in writing novels serves him well in this non-fiction work. His writing style is easy to read and very enjoyable. I enjoyed it enough to read it twice.
Michael Taetsch More than 1 year ago
I have read just about every book on US military history I can get my hands on. This book is an easy read and will pull you in like a well read novel.
The_Occasional_Scholar More than 1 year ago
A Dawn like Thunder is an excellent read. I've read quite a few books on Midway and the Cactus Air Force, but until now there hasn't been a definitive study on TBS 8. Getting to know the squadron "warts and all" makes this aspect of American history that much more interesting. I would have liked a bit more of the Japanese point of view, but ignoring that minor blip this is a wonderful example of research and respect for the subject of that research.
Tsip89 More than 1 year ago
Don't assume this is yet another WWII book about battles, high level commanders, etc. These are well written personal stories about the pilots who participated in the Midway and Guadalcanal campaigns. I place it in the "couldn't put it down" category.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave the book as a gift to my boyfriend for our anniversary. He is a big history buff. He thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it to be easy reading for such a large book. He has a friend who also enjoys history and he gave it to him to read. He would not have done that had he not enjoyed it.
crimekitty763 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my husband who is a reluctant reader. He could not put this book down. We would turn off the TV in the evening so we could spend our time reading. He has just recently taken to reading and this book has been one of his favorites. It has been a wonderful experience for me to see him becoming quite a reader. He isn't ready for fiction books yet; but has totally enjoyed the Viet Nam and WW II stories he has read. This was a big book and he read it in only 2 weeks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this book in softcover and I have read it so many times
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A MUST READ.INSTANT CLASSIC.  
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